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The current protests throughout the world by Muslims who were offended by caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (the cartoons caused riots in Afghanistan) that originally ran in a Danish newspaper, sparked an interesting discussion among some friends of mine, about the nature of offensive imagery and the role of the media and even of cartoonists. The most inflammatory cartoon was one of Muhammad with a bomb as part of his turban, suggesting that all Muslims are terrorists. Below are edited excerpts from the e-mail discussion.

James Talley, songwriter and real estate agent
The best music – the kind that can stand that clichéd ol’ test of time – has a way of resonating as deeply and fully today as it did back when it was first recorded. That’s what comes to mind when I listen to “Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, but We Sure Got a Lot of Love," the debut album by singer-songwriter James Talley. The album was released way back in 1975, but it sounds as fresh and relevant as it did back then – and as a bonus, it sounds downright hip today, even though it was something of an anomaly back then. Never heard of James Talley? Don’t feel bad, most music fans haven’t.

I had the great fortune of flying to Boston over the weekend on business. It was a great time to be there: the weather was downright balmy (50s!) and the seafood sampler at the Union Oyster House (allegedly the oldest restaurant in the United States) was terrific. And oh yeah, did I mention? The New England Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos.

I love how smart Apple is with its line of iPods, and more important, the content it makes available for iPods. I got a video iPod for Christmas (good thing, since my 40GB 4th generation iPod is filled up with over 11,000 songs), and in addition to putting all my classical music and odds and ends like podcasts on the thing, I’ve been putting videos on it.

It's been 25 years since John Lennon was murdered in front of his New York City apartment building by a crazed fan. Over time, the media have covered the anniversary with diminishing interest, but this year resonates because of its quarter-century milestone. I've been listening to a pretty good two-CD compilation, "Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon," released by Capitol Records (and compiled, with "definitive" decisiveness, by widow Yoko Ono), and appreciating Lennon's solo work more than I have in years.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I wrote a rhapsodic review of Madonna. I thought back then that she was a perfect encapsulation of American consumerism, and though that's kind of an icky concept, I thought she was special because her music was so good. She captures (or at least back then, captured) the American "zeitgeist" (sorry to use such a geek crit-term, but it's a good one) with pure pop for all people. Anyone who didn't like her music were just plain high-culture snobs or didn't have an ounce of humor and/or rhythm in their bones.

Buttermilk fried chicken from Chef E's, with fried green tomatoes, spicy cabbage and mashed sweet potatoes.
Ain’t it great when a dining experience is positively orgasmic? I for one, live for those meals. The first meal with the AAJA Link student staff at the AAJA convention in Minneapolis was one of those great foodfests.

The future of journalism, of course, is in the hands of the young journalists and journalism students who are about to enter the profession. That’s why I’m happy (and honored) to be volunteering as one of the professional mentors working with a group of students on AAJALink, the student-run Web site covering the annual convention of the Asian American Journalists Association. The confab is in Minneapolis, a city I’ve never traveled to. So far, I haven't seen much of it except what I’m sure must be the world’s largest Target (a two-story department store a block away from the retailer’s corporate offices, which is also on the downtown Minneapolis Nicollette Mall).